- Released Internationally on 17th July 2009
- Released in Malta by KRS on 29th October 2009 as part of the annual Malta International Film Festival
In a nutshell
Made on a small but well-used budget, and mostly a one-man show, this is one of the best films of the year.
Welcome to Lunar Industries
The story unfolds on the Earth's moon. Sometime in the unspecified future, a mining project is established on the surface of the moon, which harvests a clean source of energy for use on earth. The advanced setup allows it to function with only one human member of staff. That lonesome individual is Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell - Matchstick Men, Frost/Nixon), and we meet him just two weeks before his three-year contract is due to expire. He's understandably eager to head back home, especially since his wife was pregnant when he left, and he's had to rely on recorded video messages to enjoy his young family over the past years.
Three years is a long time. Around three years ago, Wii and Blu-ray were released, Saddam Hussein was executed, and Italy won the World Cup. That seems like aeons ago. So we can only imagine how much longer they must seem if you are cooped up in a gleaming, sterile space station with no other humans in sight. I assume Sam Bell was being paid handsomely for his troubles, because there must be few other reasons to do it. Keeping him sane and fit for work during his long stretch is a regular routine of work, treadmill, hobbies, video calls, and Gerty.
In a clear homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey, Sam's confidante, companion and support line is a smooth-talking console named Gerty. Voiced elegantly by Kevin Spacey (American Beauty, The Usual Suspects), Gerty has a smiley face where Hal 9000 had a red light, and his display changes with mood. There is little else to discern from his deadpan voice, and his allegiances are divided between the parent company who installed him, and Sam whom he babysits. As Sam starts to see things and get certain suspicions during the last weeks of his sojourn, he needs Gerty on his side as he tries to uncover the truth.
The sounds of space
The homage to Kubrick continues with a solitary scene set to classical music, much like the balletic spaceship sequences that defined 2001, but the references end there, and in all other aspects this story is wonderfully original and surprising. Moon owes much of its overall look and feel to the basic but effective special effects as Sam ventures out into zero gravity, and to the pulsating and occasionally beautiful score from composer Clint Mansell. The lunar landscape scenes provide us viewers, and Sam, with a break from the enclosed environment of the space station, and add a lot to the sense of awe and mystery.
In the end
This polished and rewarding science-fiction film is the film debut of a certain Duncan Jones, who wrote the original story, and directed the film. Previously known mostly for his work in advertising and as the son of David Bowie, we can only hope this will open up many doors for him as a filmmaker. Sam Rockwell continues to impress, and as the story unfolds, his performance is what binds the film together and makes it work. We need more films like Moon.
Trailer: (High-res QuickTime)